The History Of Football

The ‘beautiful game’ has come a long way since its humble birth. Today the sport is played in front of tens of thousands of supporters in state-of-the-art stadia, watched by billions on television the world over with an ever increasing group of followers placing an online football bet both before and during the match itself.

Nominating an exact start date for football is a tricky one as different games involving the kicking around of a ball have been recorded as taking place at different times in different countries. Various versions of the game arose around the world, with some dating back as far as the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC in China. Ball games were first played in Egypt as early as 1800 BC and were thought to be linked to fertility rituals and religious ceremonies. However, the evolution of football into the game that we all know today took place in Britain.

Primitive football in Britain had no real rules and was often spontaneous, disorganised and usually violent. It often occurred as a grudge match between two neighbouring villages across streets, squares, fields and streams. The actual ball itself varied enormously and was not that important as opposing players were more often the target. These types of so called games took place all over the British Isles from around the eighth century onwards. Over time these games became more organised and evolved into the modern day association football, rugby and Gaelic football. Many towns have tried to lay claim to being the founder of the modern game. Kingston-upon Thames and Chester both claim that the first game was played there with the severed head of a Danish prince, but they have little evidence to support the fact.

Interestingly, few would argue that English public schools were key in the establishment of the creation of modern association football. There is evidence that a public school headmaster called Richard Mulcaster organised matches in the sixteenth century and took out the ‘violent mob’ element of the game. The first ever set of Football Rules were written at Eton College in Berkshire in 1815. Some thirty three years later, in 1848, at Trinity College Cambridge, the Cambridge Rules were first drawn up after a meeting of representatives from all the major public schools. Over the next fifteen years there was still some confusion as the Cambridge Rules were not universally accepted and many clubs and schools played by their own rules. Some of the rules turned out to play an important part in the formation of the modern association football. The most important being those developed at Uppingham School in 1862 and those created by the Sheffield Football Club in 1867.

In order to unite all these different variations of the game, the Football Association was first established in 1863. They first met at the Freemason’s Tavern in Great Queen Street in London and after several meetings over a few months, the first comprehensive set of rules, ‘the Laws of the Game’, were compiled. After the final meeting, a few representatives withdrew from the association as they objected to some of the rules. Their main objection was for players not to tackle by tripping or holding and for the forbidding of running with the ball in one’s hands. These breakaway clubs went on to form the Rugby Football Union in 1871. The Sheffield Football Club formed their own Association and played by their rules until 1870. The Football Association modified their rules until there was eventually little between the two forms of the game.

The current laws of the game are governed by the International Football Association Board which was established in 1886. The Board was established in Manchester after a meeting between the Football Association and the Irish, Scottish and Welsh Football Associations.  Today the association is known as the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

The oldest Football competition in the world is the Football Association Cup, more commonly known as the FA Cup.  The first FA Cup was instigated by the FA Honorary secretary Charles Alcock in 1872. Alcock is also accredited with organising the first International football match (Scotland versus England, 1872). He proposed to a meeting at the offices of The Sportsman in London in July 1871 ‘that it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association, for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete’. The first FA Cup competition took place in the 1871/72 season and it had fifty entries.

The first final was won by Wonderers (a team of ex-public school and University players) and was held in front of 2000 people at the Kennington Oval. The FA Cup remains a very prestigious cup competition and over 600 sides enter each season.

Football is played at a professional level all over the world and every four years countries compete for the prestigious World Cup. Millions of fans turn up and watch their teams all over the World while billions more watch on television. Football is thought to be the most popular sport in the World with roughly 350 million people regularly playing the sport.

With so many people both playing and following the game, it is no wonder why football betting has become such an attraction. The competitiveness of the game attract supporters the world over and the games’ unpredictable nature attract football bets on almost any potential outcome.

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